5 leadership skills that are overlooked but essential

Thursday, November 8, 2018 - 14:32
5 leadership skills that are overlooked but essential

Being a leader has moved beyond just giving your staff directions and expecting that the job will get done. If they want to thrive and be the best in today’s fast-paced work environment, leaders must be able to help organisations quickly adapt to change and uncover new opportunities for growth. They need to engage effectively with not only their team but also other departments and external stakeholders to ensure success. 

This is key, knowing that poor leadership can have real consequences. Indeed, studies have shown that 34% of employees have left a company due to poor leadership. To avoid this pitfall, leaders must develop crucial skills, such as leadership and communication of course, but that’s not it. Other traits are often forgotten but undoubtedly at least equally important.

These skills are mainly soft skills. So it is not a surprise that, according to the recently conducted AIM Soft Skill Survey 2019, 54.7% of Australian business leaders consider strong soft skills as being very important when hiring new talent. Below, we explore which ones are overlooked and why it is essential for leaders to acquire and nurture them.


1. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a must-have skill for every leader, and also the hardest one to find, say 62.8% of Australian business leaders who have taken part in the AIM Soft Skills Survey 2019. An emotionally intelligent leader can recognise, understand, express and manage not only their own emotions but others’ as well. An emotionally fit leader can also control the way they react to events, how they communicate with colleagues and make decisions.

Leaders that can relate to people, and offer authentic empathy and reasoning will motivate and inspire employees more effectively. Being empathetic is particularly crucial now that there is a rise in mental health injuries caused by workplaces. Emotionally intelligent leaders are better at identifying stress, improving workplace relationships, and driving change.


2. People management

Leaders need to be people-orientated because people are an organisation’s greatest asset. Without people management skills, it is nearly impossible for your team, as well as members inside and outside of the company, to respect, trust, and have confidence in you as a leader.

According to Gallup polls, 50% of employees who quit their jobs blame poor management. This explains why 36.9% of Australian business leaders interviewed as part of the AIM Soft Skills Survey 2019 wish this skill were stronger in their employee base. Excellent people management is knowing how to utilise the strengths of your team, create new opportunities for them and be empathetic. But it is also about creating a job that is motivating, meaningful, and provides opportunities for professional development and growth.


3. Change management      

Change is constant. Within the work environment, and because of its nature, change can cause stress and anxiety for employees. Change management is the process whereby leaders proactively help individuals and other parts of the organisation transition through change in order to avoid distractions such as staff resistance.

McKinsey estimates that 70% of change programs fail to achieve their goals, in large part due to employee resistance. However good leaders know how to strategically navigate these changes by providing support and removing any potential barriers to employee success, so that company morale, trust in leadership, and productivity levels remain high.


4. Conflict resolution

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable because different people have different ideas and viewpoints. Half of Australian workers have experienced one or more serious incidences of conflict. However, when a conflict is left unaddressed, it can be destructive, undermining morale and productivity levels.

Therefore it is crucial for effective leaders to show good conflict resolution skills. They need to have the ability to address and resolve conflicting interests in what are commonly highly-emotion, low-trust environments. When a conflict is effectively managed, it can bring new levels of understanding, empathy, and communication into a workplace, as well as inspiration and motivation.


5. Mentoring

When it comes to mentoring, we usually think about leaders passing down wisdom onto less experienced employees, while providing insight and support. But the most effective leaders take it as an opportunity to also learn from the experience.

In addition to sharpening their listening skills, leaders with quality mentoring skills use it as a chance to interact with a range of different people from other industries, backgrounds, and age groups. By broadening their perspectives, leaders can view the organisation and its culture and functions with fresh eyes, and spot patterns that they didn’t see before.

While all of these skills are often much harder to quantify; emotional intelligence, people management, change management, conflict resolution and mentoring are critical qualities that all leaders need to have. Indeed, the work environment no longer relies on an individual’s intrinsic qualities, but on how well they create lasting relationships with people.

Developing a leadership mindset takes commitment and focus, but the results will speak for themselves and you will soon find yourself contributing measurable results to your organisation. If you are interested in demonstrating your dedication to be a leader, we have developed AIM Credentials – a customisable short course suite that acknowledges your commitment to leadership in your chosen field, and your knowledge of the critical skills, tools and techniques to perform.